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Great Barrier Reef needs farm pollution laws, Australian Marine Conservation Society tells hearing

March 26, 2019 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

Cleaning up the Great Barrier Reef’s water by introducing laws to cut farm pollution is essential to give corals a fighting chance of surviving climate change, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) told a government hearing today.

The Queensland Government’s Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee held a public hearing on proposed laws that would give the government the power to set standards on farming practices to cut pollution running into the Reef’s catchments.

Nick Heath, AMCS President, gave an impassioned presentation to the hearing, laying out three reasons why the proposed laws should be passed.

Heath told the hearing: “Climate change is the Reef’s biggest threat, but bad water has had the biggest impact…. we must boost the Reef’s resilience.”

Heath said after 35 years diving on, and campaigning for, the Reef, he had seen stunning parts of the globally iconic system turn to “rubble” with farm run-off overloaded with chemicals feeding outbreaks of coral-eating Crown of Thorns starfish.

Heath said his second reason to support the proposals was to promote farming practices that improve food security by stopping soils and expensive fertilisers being lost to rivers and creeks.

Heath added: “Finally I told the hearing that the world was watching. We know from studies that voluntary programs just won’t do anywhere near enough to clean up the water running into the Reef.

“We have to stand up now.  This is an incredibly important bill.  Next year, the World Heritage Committee will again turn the spotlight on what we’ve been doing to safeguard the Reef. Putting these laws in place will demonstrate we’re serious about using science to guide good policy.”

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